Controversy: Animals in Research

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 3
Words: 900
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: Bachelor

Conducting experiments that involve the use of animals has been a controversial issue in science in recent decades, particularly due to the rise of the animal welfare movement. Some scientists claim that the use of animals is justified since it improves the quality and longevity of humans lives, while other activists and researchers believe that animal experiments are not admissible under any conditions. Some people claim that certain factors, such as the objective of the study and its effect on the test subjects, should be considered. Therefore, it is important to look deeper into the particular aspects of the issue.

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Advocating for the necessity of political critique of animal experiments

The animals are now used for various scientific purposes: in medical education, as disease models (to mimic human diseases), in behavioral studies, as sources of cells and tissues (Ferrari, 2019). Ferrari (2019) mentions that while there are laws regulating the use of animals in experiments, there is significantly less control concerning their capturing, transporting, and breeding. The author concentrates on breeding, mentioning that many tests demand “genetically altered animals”, which leads to many individual creatures being used just to maintain the alternative line (Ferrari, 2019, p. 195). They are bred in commercial facilities so that scientists can order them (Ferrari, 2019). In such cases, many genetically altered animals are not even used, though their lives are considerably different from other members of their species and may involve more suffering. It puts a question of the acceptability of such breeding since these animals do not even become test subjects; therefore, no practical benefit can justify it.

Stating that there is a clear need to search for alternatives and summarize the existing options

While presenting the reasons for suggesting alternatives for animal experiments, the authors describe the current arguments against this practice. They state that the principal claim against such research methods is that animal lives also have value (Mushtaq, Daş, & Aksoy, 2018). Even if animals are not slaughtered in the process, they may experience considerable suffering during the experiments, while they have the right to live “without pain and distress” (as cited in Mushtaq et al., 2018, p. 162). These arguments largely depend on ethical views; therefore, they are not accepted by everyone since some believe that the lives of animals are less valuable than humans and their sufferings are justifiable if they help prevent people’s anguish. Mushtaq et al. (2018) claim that animals can still be needed in some experiments, even if alternative practices are accepted. However, it seems that stricter regulations are required.

Unreliability of results of animal experiments

Due to genetic and anatomical similarities, animals have been used in research as prototypes of humans. However, in her influential study, Aysha Akhtar (2015) claims that the findings of such experiments are not always reliable. She states that “critically important physiological and genetic differences between humans and other animals can invalidate the use of animals to study human diseases, treatments” (Akhtar, 2015). This controversy explains why many scientists these days stand against animal experiments. It is often the case that findings of animal studies prove to be inapplicable to humans; therefore, test subjects lives are wasted, which is highly unethical.

Searching for alternative methods to reduce animal sacrifice

This article concentrates on suggesting some methods which can be introduced to replace animals used for experiments. While describing the current rules for using animal subjects in research, the paper touches upon one relevant controversy. To use animals in their experiments, scientists have to prove that it is done for human welfare (since humans are considered to be more important than animals) (Rai & Kaushik, 2018). Some researchers dispute the need to ask permission to conduct experiments on animals that are otherwise slaughtered for meat production (Rai & Kaushik, 2018). Rai and Kaushik (2018) explain that it is connected to the fact that institutions act as separate individuals under the law, so they have to account for damaging any animal regardless of whether farmers are allowed to do the same. Such regulations appear legitimate since scientists should not be allowed to harm animals without reasonable grounds solely because these animals are widely used for meat production.

Using dogs for experiments is unethical

The issue of general admissibility of animal experiments is compounded by the fact that not all animals are similar in terms of their responsiveness. One of the recent neuroscientific studies has proved that dogs are very perceptive, comparable even to human children (Bailey & Pereira, 2018). They can recognize emotions in voices and facial expressions, and even “understand complexities of verbal content” (Bailey & Pereira, 2018, p. 49). The researchers claim that the high levels of empathy demonstrated by dogs make conducting experiments on them unethical (Bailey & Pereira, 2018, p. 49). However, it raises the issue of whether the fact that some animals are more perceptive than others justifies using for experiments less developed species.

Thus, there are many aspects and problems which should be considered in relation to animal experiments. One of the major questions is whether the results of such studies are reliable enough to justify harming animals; their breeding also appears to be an important issue. The problem of admissibility of research being conducted on some particular species is also discussed. Therefore, more research in this sphere is needed to introduce strictly and substantiated regulations.

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Akhtar, A. (2015). The flaws and human harms of animal experimentation. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, 24(4), 407-419.

Bailey, J., & Pereira, S. (2018). Advances in neuroscience imply that harmful experiments in dogs are unethical. Journal of Medical Ethics, 44(1), 47-52.

Ferrari, A. (2019). Contesting animal experiments through ethics and epistemology: in defense of a political critique of animal experimentation. In K. Herrmann & K. Jayne (Eds.), Animal Experimentation: Working Towards a Paradigm Change (pp. 194-206). Leiden, Netherlands: Brill.

Mushtaq, S., Daş, Y. K. & Aksoy, A. (2018). Alternative methods to animal experiments. Türkiye Klinikleri. Tip Bilimleri Dergisi, 38(2), 161-170. Web.

Rai, J., & Kaushik, K. (2018). Reduction of animal sacrifice in biomedical science & research through alternative design of animal experiments. Saudi Pharmaceutical Journal, 26(6), 896-902.